Downtown Madrid is the Gran Via, which has many hotels, restaurants and stores. Most of the biggest attractions are all within a 2 km radius of each other. You can use Booking.com to screen hotels or apartments in this area (Madrid City Center). The most upscale area is the Barrio Salamanca (the safest barrio) and Calle Serrano is the 5th Avenue of Madrid. It is suggested to stay in Madrid for at least 4 days. One can do day trips to Toledo, Segovia and El Escorial. Read about these day trips in the top questions of the Madrid forum.
Must see places are the Royal Palace, Prado Museum, Thyssen Museum, Reina Sofia Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Sorolla Museum, Cerralbo Museum, Plaza Mayor, El Retiro Park, Basilica of San Francisco El Grande.
1. Botin (Calle Cuchilleros 17-19; Tel. 913-664-217) is the oldest restaurant in the world, since 1725 and has good Castilian food. Roast suckling pig is the specialty. There are many other traditional dishes such as lamb. This was Hemingway’s favorite restaurant.
2. Casa Lucio (Calle Cava Baja, 35; Tel. 913-653-252) is famous for its "huevos rotos" (broken eggs).
There are many good tapas bars at Calle Cava Baja. Do your own tapas tour here.
3. Platea (Calle Goya, 5-7) is a new gastronomic site with about 20 restaurants that are open every day, where one can eat tapas and different types of food in the food courts.
Shopping in the Barrio Salamanca: Calle Serrano, Claudio Coello, Ortega y Gassett, Calle Goya.
Shopping downtown: Gran Via, Calle Preciados, Calle Fuencarral.
Shopping in the Barrio Chueca: Calle del Barquillo has many good small boutiques.
For San Sebastian:
Things to see:
1. La Concha Beach - Probably the most beautiful beach in Spain.
2. Old town (behind the Ayuntamiento Building) - Has many pintxo restaurants.
3. Miramar Palace - A historic palace with beautiful gardens.
4. San Telmo Museum - The main art museum in the city-
5. Cathedral of the Good Sheperd - A beautiful church downtown.
6. Monte Igueldo - The view of the city from the top of this mountain is wonderful.
7. Peine del Viento Sculpture - A beautiful sculpture at one end of the Ondarreta Beach.
8. Ondarreta Beach - A beautiful beach that is the continuation of the La Concha Beach.
A very good hotel beside the La Concha Beach is the Hotel Londres. Use Booking.com to look for other hotels or apartments.
The area behind the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) has many restaurants where one can try pintxos. Calle Fuenterrabia and Avenida de la Libertad are the main shopping streets.